AOA: What a Great Year It Has Been!

Only a few short weeks remain before school lets out for the summer break. A chance for us all to hopefully relax and unwind… and start preparing for another jam-packed school year! As you begin to reflect on your successes and those moments that didn’t quite go as planned, consider sharing your knowledge with our membership by submitting a session proposal for the 2020 AMEA Conference. We know that our teachers have different perspectives and unique areas of interest and we would love to see your insights shared with our membership! While you’re at it, also consider applying to have your ensemble represent the AOA as one of our lobby performance groups and help us increase the orchestra presence in our state.

As of the writing of this article, the AOA has concluded its activities for the year with another wonderful All-State Orchestra Festival and our 4th stand-alone Music Performance Assessment event. Our 2019 All-State Orchestra Festival was held at the University of Alabama from February 7-10. We had almost 250 students across 3 ensembles successfully audition for the opportunity to work with our fabulous clinicians – Dr. Raphael Jimenez (Oberlin College), Mr. Bryan Buffaloe (Clear Lake HS, TX), and Dr. Gail Barnes (USC). Each year, the AOA holds a composition contest that is open to both domestic and international composers. The winner’s work is then premiered by our Festival Orchestra. This year we premiered Discord by Nabil Abad. Mr. Abad is an up-and-coming composer who is currently studying at Baldwin Wallace University. His work was chosen from more than 30 entries from all over the world. It is always interesting to hear student’s perspectives on these works as it is, for some of them, their first exposure to modern orchestral music. Some don’t like it at the first read-through and their opinion does not change even as they become more familiar with the work. Others absolutely love it from the get-go, and some grow to like it as they spend more time with it. It always helps to hear from the composer both during rehearsals and at our dedicated Meet the Composer session. I would like to thank the AOA Board, our Executive Director – Julie Hornstein, our District Chairs, section coaches, UA staff, and parent volunteers for all the hard work they put into making the festival a resounding success. I would encourage you all to stay tuned to both our Facebook page and our website for some potential updates regarding next year’s audition procedures and the festival itself. The AOA will release All-State audition material by August 2, 2019. However, please keep checking our Facebook page for any updates or changes to this date.

The AOA’s 4th stand-alone MPA event took place at Gadsden City High School on April 5, 2019. One of the judges for the event commented that he had judged at our first ever event and was pleased to see the progress being made in our state over the last 4 years. The following ensembles were awarded a Superior rating with straight 1s on-stage and a 1 in sight-reading:

  • Gadsden Middle School Symphony Strings
  • Decatur Youth Symphony Chamber Strings
  • Gadsden City High School Titan Symphony Orchestra
  • Baldwin Magnet School Advanced Orchestra
  • Alabama School of Fine Arts String Orchestra
  • Dunbar Magnet School Guitar Ensemble

We will be posting the complete results to on our webpage soon. Dates and locations for next year’s event will be posted by the end of July. Please consider bringing your ensemble to this event in 2020.

I hope these last few weeks bring you great success as you wrap up spring concerts and finish out the year. As always, if there is anything that the AOA can do to help you and your program please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


Guy Harrison, President

Alabama Orchestra Association